As the Lunar New Year was celebrated across communities, we were blessed to come together with colleagues across Sutton and Cheam Parishes to hear about local initiatives supporting Hong Kongers moving into the Sutton area. It is anticipated that 350,000 Hong Kongers are planning to move to the UK under the BNO Visa scheme started by the UK Government in January 2021.

Since then many Hong Kongers have moved into Sutton Borough and also neighbouring Kingston. In a meeting initiated by Simon Gates, Archdeacon of Lambeth , and Head of JPIC, Nicola Thomas , we met to discuss and pray for ways in which we could support Hong Kongers further.

Sutton has particularly seen a large number of Hong Kongers arriving to live in rental apartments close to Sutton High Street whilst they find their feet on the ground. Many are families with young children attracted by the good schools in the borough and the accessibility to central London. There are several Cantonese speaking YouTubers, also known as KOL’s ( Key Opinion Leaders) recommending Sutton and Kingston as great areas to move to. Within the London area popular areas have been Sutton, Kingston & Barnet boroughs as well as Wokingham and Reading – perhaps you’ve welcomed Hong Kongers into your church and parish?

Of those arriving, a proportion have Christian beliefs and will seek fellowship from local churches. The Venerable Simon Gates spoke of his prior experience of living and ministering in Hong Kong within the Anglican Communion known as the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (HKSKH 香港聖公會). Similar to here in the UK, there are 3 Dioceses and HKSKH also serves the community providing education in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools. Yes – they have church schools too!

Christ Church Sutton has welcomed over 30 families joining their congregation with Cantonese/English bilingual speaking services. St Dunstan’s Church in Cheam Parish , in partnership with Volunteer Centre Sutton is running a very popular 6 Week Welcome to the UK course.. Both churches accessed resources provided by Welcome Churches with videos for the Welcome to the UK Course and the free bilingual Welcome Magazine aimed at primary school aged children.

Perhaps your church could host a Welcome course or your school and church could order the Welcome Magazine to gift to newly arrived children from Hong Kong? St Dunstan’s Primary School has welcomed over 40 families into their community and each child has been presented with a Welcome Magazine. Christ Church Sutton celebrated Chinese New Year with their congregation hosting a Chinese New Year event for recently arrived Ukrainians to share their customs and traditions.

We continue to pray and consider ways we can further support and help integrate new arrivals into our community longer term.